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Williams Family Decendants Cemetery Dedication


Williams Ranch is one of the oldest settlements in Mills County, Texas and  near the town of Mullin, was home to some of my mother’s ancestors, both from the Williams and Chesser sides. My Uncle Luther Williams, along with members of the Association, have been working diligently to place an historical marker at the cemetery that is still there and which dates back to the mid-19th century.  My great-great-grandfather is buried there, as are several of my ancestors.

The sons of the founder, who are from a different branch of Williams’, came from North Carolina and first settled the area around 1855, all had ranches in the area thus resulting in the town’s name. The community grew to include a hotel, general store, school, post office, and several businesses including a stage stop. The thriving community was changed forever when the Santa Fe Railroad bypassed Williams Ranch in 1885. The following article provides additional information about the upcoming dedication ceremony and history of the settlement known as Williams Ranch.

Cemetery Dedication

by Luther Williams

On Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. the Mills County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission will have a DEDICATION CEREMONY for the Williams Ranch Cemetery Historical Marker four miles south of  Mullin. The public is invited to attend.

The Williams Ranch Cemetery is located along the old military supply road which trails along the eastern side of the Colorado River.  It connected Austin, Ft. Croghan, Camp
Colorado,  Ft. Chadbourn, Ft. Phantom Hill and Ft. Belknap.  Today that route through Mills County is still known as the Williams  Ranch Road or Wire Road.  It passes the six natural springs which were once the site of the frontier settlement known as Williams Ranch.

Between 1860 and 1870, the Williams Ranch settlement was reported to have been the only civilization between Austin and Ft. Concho at San Angelo. The  site of the town and  cemetery is on a Third Class Head Rights Texas Land Grant (640 acres) granted to William W. Williams of Brazoria County in 1852.

In the fall of 1855, another Williams, John Williams, his family, and other pioneers (Jones, Bulls, Mullin, Russell, and Jackson) traveling along the military road to Ft.  Croghan (now Burnet) visited the springs and began settling in the area.  It is historically interesting to note that these pioneer families arrived in the area before the counties of Brown (1856), San Saba (1856), and Mills (1887) were organized.

The first marked grave in the cemetery is that of six year old C.K. Conner (1858 – 1864), grandson of James D. Williams.  The young boy died from injuries resulting from a horse accident and the grave is located under a large oak.

The Williams Ranch Cemetery is believed to be one of the first cemeteries in Mills County and, certainly, one of the few cemeteries in central Texas where the final resting spot are those of an integrated mixture of people.  Known to be buried in the Ranch Cemetery are black and white frontier men and women,  outlaws, Native Americans, and citizens of Mexico.

The Williams Ranch Cemetery Association was organized in September 1968 with the specific purpose of preserving and maintaining the Cemetery.   In 1975-76 a tremendous amount of work went into preparing for the “Bicentennial Celebration.”    A survey by the Mills County Bicentennial Historical Committee and the Williams Ranch Cemetery Association in 1975 was able to identified 321 marked graves.  The two groups working on the restoration of the rock in the cemetery,  identified that many of the markers were made of Texas sandstone and Georgian Marble.  Some of the more elaborate markers were obtained from D. P. Simmons Co. of Round Rock, TX.

On May 24, 1975, Mills County Judge Herbert Faulkner declared the day as “Williams Ranch Day” and a large crowd gathered for the work day and celebration.  The day ended at the Community Center in Mullin with a covered dish dinner and visitation with friends and family.

In May 1977, the Cemetery Association reserved the southwest corner of the   cemetery for meetings.  With labor and funds for installation, a metal shelter was built in the reserved area by John Forrest, Joyce Chesser, Donald and Jannette Chesser, Retus Balentine and Bill Chesser.

John F. and John William Chesser donated and erected a permanent flag pole at the front gate of the cemetery.  In 1993, Charles Utzman, president of the association, obtained flags that had flown over the United States and Texas Capitol buildings specifically for the Williams Ranch Cemetery Association.  The United States flag flew over the National Capitol building on August 2, 1993.  The Texas flag flew over the Texas Capitol on July 22, 1993.  The flags were flown over the Williams Ranch Cemetery for the first time on February 27, 1994.

Williams Ranch  Cemetery is an active cemetery and is maintained by a small endowment, friends, family members, and neighbors.    The Association members continually provide a large amount of the work needed for the maintenance and special projects at the cemetery.  Financial support is always needed and welcomed.  On the second Saturday of September, the Association meets for the annually business meeting and a covered dish lunch at the cemetery.  Family members, friends and the public are always welcomed and invited to attend.   A registration book is permanently located at the front gate for visitors, dates and comments of their visit to the cemetery are encouraged.